The two biggest obstacles to success in dealing w/ the Afghan govt, and consequently with our chances of success w/ the war there are Amb. Eikenberry and Special Envoy Holbrooke. When Obama took over the first thing he and his brain trust decided was that Karzai must go. Eikenberry and Holbrooke were the main architects and implementers of that dismal failure. Consequently Karzai took a very dim view of the US and our commitment to helping him achieve peace. He opened larger discussions with the Pakistanis and with the Taliban themselves since they seemed to him, rightly I might add, to be the folks with the most skin in the game. In the course of our attempted diplomatic coup of Karzai, both Eik and Holbrooke became personas non grata in Afghanistan. Holbrooke can't even get a meeting with the Pakistanis, last time he tried they more or less said they were going to their Dad's house for a cook out. Both of these diplomats have operated so un-diplomatically that they seriously hampered any chance for us to operate a whole of government approach to the problems in Afghanistan. The State Department has been effectively sidelined and consequently when we did things, like clear Marjah, there was no follow on capability by State and the Afghans to put any effective government in place.
So the question now is what to do about McChrystal and his staff saying some very true things in a very stupid venue. And yes that is what they did. I read the whole article and was hard-pressed to find anything to disagree with, as a matter of fact I have made most of the allusions they did. But they are officers in the military, and they said them to a freakin' Rolling Stone reporter. That was dumb as f**k. Period, no excuses. So what next?
Obama doesn't have any good choices here. It is being reported that McChrystal has offered his resignation and I think that is an honorable thing to do. I also think Obama should decline to accept it. If McChrystal leaves and Eik and Holbrooke stay, then out of the three top people responsible for our relations with the Afghan govt. the two remaining will be those with awful relations, actually near zero relations w/ them. McChrystal and Karzai have a strong bond and can work together. If he leaves, no matter who replaces him there will be no way to salvage the working ties needed for the Afghans to pull their weight and our combined efforts to succeed. Ideally Obama will suck it up, and jerk a knot in McChrystal's tail while retaining him for the vital push this next year.
But if he decides to let him go, then he has to get rid of the two non-diplomats and bring in some folks who are not despised by Karzai and the Pakistanis, John McCain agrees and said so. Holbrooke and Eikenberry have been completely ineffectual in their roles, even counter-productive. They should have been replaced immediately after their failed coup against Karzai. If there could be one bright spot in this unnecessary debacle, it would be their departure. The logical answer for a new Ambassador is Zalmay Khalilzad. Let's hope that if McC goes, we get a clean sweep of the rest of the house as well. Obviously this puts me in agreement with the Uber Pig.